Quotes of the week

“Salem, an ungodly creature from an underworld so dark and void of laughter it makes Mordor look like Disneyland in comparison, was last seen roaming the Seventh Layer of Hell, feasting on human souls with his friend Beelzebub. If you see him, RUN.”

‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch’: Where Are They Now?

“But without realizing it, or even asking for it, a better life quality came to us. And this is why, now that I’m back, I’m angry that my own country isn’t providing more for its people. I will never regret living abroad. It taught me to understand another culture. And it taught me to see my own. But it also taught me something else — to lose touch with the American version of reality.”

Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture

“The Swiss work hard, but they have a strong work-life balance. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average Swiss worker earned the equivalent of $91,574 a year in 2013, while the average American worker earned only $55,708. But the real story is that the average American had to work 219 hours more per year for this lesser salary.”

Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture

“While Mr Harper has been in charge, the Canadian dollar has plummeted and the economy is in recession. His focus on making the Great White North a petrol state by exploiting the oil sands in Alberta at the expense of the environment is blamed by some for this.”

Stephen Harper: Canadian Prime Minister accused of taking country too far to the right

“Mr McKenna said Mr Harper has largely abandoned the country’s tradition of international diplomacy and sees little need to get along with other nations or respect the UN.”

Stephen Harper: Canadian Prime Minister accused of taking country too far to the right

“Our legendary American ‘Can-Do’ attitude is under assault where it comes to changing and improving our cities. Steadily heightening ‘NIMBY’ resistance brings our capacity to devise solutions, appropriate in scale to the size of our challenges, to its knees. To move forward, we must understand NIMBY opposition and the fears that motivate it. Only then can we begin to offer real alternatives and credible solutions to move beyond this impasse.”

NIMBY Obstruction and the Density Paradox

“Density has a numerical and perceived reality. A while ago, articles based on a paper by Stone and Mees (gated, but here is a summary) argued that Los Angeles is really the densest city in the United States! Angelinos tend to believe this, because we feel so very congested on our roads. In reality, New York has high concentrations of density and vast open or low-density spaces in its boroughs. Los Angeles, in contrast, is sort of medium dense—but evenly, and everywhere.

Missing in the discourse about density is the relationship between perceived density and transportation systems. Psychologists measure the need for personal space relative to different cultures around the globe; we should also measure it qualified by which transportation culture one feels part of. If we culturally equate transportation with cars, we intuitively expand our personal space to the spatial needs of our cars. That makes a big difference.”

NIMBY Obstruction and the Density Paradox

“Donald Shoup and Michael Manville calculated the city’s land allocation for cars to be roughly two-thirds of its total area. This contrasts sharply with Manhattan, which uses only 36 percent. A Pattern Language, a well-researched guidebook to building sustainable, timeless communities, argues the perfect portion of land allocated for transportation (in small to medium cities) to be 19 percent.”

NIMBY Obstruction and the Density Paradox

“Large suburban cities like Los Angeles are too dense to work with cars (don’t we all know it here in the southland), but not quite dense enough yet to work well with transit. And evolving from one into the other is easier said than done.”

NIMBY Obstruction and the Density Paradox

“They indicated a strong sense among elected municipal officials that they lacked the powers and respect they needed to fulfill their responsibilities to citizens.”

-Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“In fact, half of Canadians now live in the great urban regions of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver; and, adding in the next seven cities by size, Canadian cities give home to three-quarters of the population.”

-Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“The distribution of seats in parliament across the country shows a strong bias towards rural representation, with the average rural riding having 30 per cent fewer voters than the average urban constituency.”

-Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“Unlike the previous growth of cities and towns this was directed not by administrative decree from outside, but by a natural response to opportunity and need. Jane Jacobs, among others, has noted this seeming accidental quality in the growth of cities. It is in responding to the desires and needs of people that the most interesting and sustainable cities, and the most vibrant parts of those cities, have developed. Jacobs has observed that when central planners set out to decree what shall be, they often get it wrong. But when cities grow more organically in response to demands and are allowed to change and alter their nature as those demands change what results is more enduring.”

-Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“The BNA Act effectively allocated responsibilities and authority between the provinces and the federal government. Municipalities were designated as the responsibility of the provinces, with no residual authority of their own. Any authority they were to enjoy would be permitted by the provincial governments, and could be granted or taken away at the will of the province. cities, then, had no control of their own destinies.”

-Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“Those decisions may have been made with a view towards helping cities, or with a view to punishing them, or without them in view at all, but those decisions were made somewhere other than in the office of a mayor or on the floor of a city council chamber. And it happened this way because the purse strings, the actual ability to pay for and implement policy programs, were held elsewhere. Cities relied on the kindness of strangers, which was in sporadic supply.”

-Urban Nation by Alan Broadbent

“They endorsed a sweeping policy that would rework some of the city’s mightiest boulevards, adding more lanes for buses and bikes and, in some places, leaving fewer for cars. The goal is to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians while also luring more people out of their cars.

The plan represents a major departure in transportation policy for a city so closely identified with cars, and reflects the view of many planners that the old way of building more road space to address traffic is no longer a viable option.

Known as Mobility Plan 2035, the plan spells out hundreds of miles of new bicycle lanes, bus-only lanes and other road redesigns. It also seeks to cut the fatality rate from traffic collisions to zero within 20 years, in part by keeping cars within the speed limits.”

L.A. will add bike and bus lanes, cut car lanes in sweeping policy shift

“Backers of the plan say that a reduction in vehicle speeds does not automatically result in gridlock. A better scenario for a major street is to have cars moving at steady, consistent speeds, they say.

‘Slower moving traffic does not necessarily lead to congestion. Those two are separate,’ said Senior City Planner Claire Bowin, who helped draft the plan. ‘Slower traffic can actually in some ways accommodate more cars moving through an area.'”

L.A. will add bike and bus lanes, cut car lanes in sweeping policy shift

“Mr. Harper’s campaign for re-election has so far been utterly consistent with the personality trait that has defined his tenure as prime minister: his peculiar hatred for sharing information.”

The Closing of the Canadian Mind

“He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Conservative Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance.

His relationship to the press is one of outright hostility. At his notoriously brief news conferences, his handlers vet every journalist, picking and choosing who can ask questions. In the usual give-and-take between press and politicians, the hurly-burly of any healthy democracy, he has simply removed the give.”

The Closing of the Canadian Mind

“The union that represents federal scientists and other professionals has, for the first time in its history, abandoned neutrality to campaign against Mr. Harper.”

The Closing of the Canadian Mind

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